Accusations of voter fraud in Russian elections are nothing new, especially during the Putin era. What is unusual is when one of the winners - a member of Putin’s party - protests the election results:
Chumachenko basically caught everyone off-guard by complaining about his “victory.” My favorite quote is this one:
Grigory Golosov, a politics scholar who runs a program that trains election observers in St. Petersburg, said the Morskoy race was unusual only because the cheating was so thoroughly exposed.
He said the Kremlin evaluates local officials partly on their performance in elections, and it sets goals that “everyone knows can’t be reached without fraud.” At the same time, he said, the government has passed new laws toughening penalties against vote tampering.
“It means they want the fraud to be done professionally and not be so blatant,” Golosov said. In St. Petersburg, where United Russia won 77 percent of the vote – the goal was 70 percent – and in the Morskoy district, in particular, the problem was that “they didn’t do the fraud well,” he added.
Although this one is a close second:
Meanwhile, prosecutors have sought to examine the original ballots. Election officials say they were damaged when a water pipe burst, an explanation that has been used before in Russia to stall investigations into election irregularities.
“We have very smart pipes,” Chumachenko said with a grin. “They know exactly where to leak.”